Did you know that Kerala’s cancer rate is 4 times the national average? According to a report based on government data submitted to the Parliament, cancer instances in the country are on a steep rise, with 14,51,417 reported cases. This number is expected to rise by 70% over the next 18 years, says GLOBOCAN, an international initiative on cancer data.
So what’s the reason behind this shocking increase in number of cancer cases?
“We’ve brought this upon ourselves”, say doctors. Many cancers, according to them, can be traced to lifestyle issues, which includes smoking, excessive drinking, regular intake of junk food, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep and most importantly, stress.
How does lifestyle increase the risk of cancer?
An unhealthy lifestyle combined with extreme stress and sleeplessness depletes the body of anti-oxidants - the natural protectant against cancer. According to cancer care experts at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre (University of Texas), persistent or chronic stress can weaken one’s immunity system and make the body prone to cancer. Stress also makes the body acidic, which helps cancer thrive. Chronic stress also increases the production of certain growth factors that increase blood supply in the body, which speed up the development of cancerous tumours.
Regular intake junk food or food that’s high on fat, sugar and salt and low in fibre affect the digestive system and trigger cancer. Studies at the University of Arizona* has revealed that people who eat food that’s high in fat, oil, salt and sugar can lead to cancers, especially stomach and colon cancer.
One of the leading causes of cancers in India, tobacco is dangerous in all forms – smoking, chewing or snuffing. Tobacco contains thousands of deadly chemicals including carcinogens like Nicotine, Lead, Arsenic and Hydrogen cyanide. Regular use of tobacco can lead to not just cancers of the lung, mouth, and throat, but also other body parts like the stomach and colon.
Excess consumption of alcohol can lead to cancers of the liver, mouth, throat, voice box, and oesophagus.
Lack of exercise
Being obese or overweight can increase the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast, colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), pancreas, kidney and oesophagus. Excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more oestrogen and insulin - the hormones that can stimulate cancer growth.
Radiation/ Carcinogen Exposure
People who are constantly exposed to harmful radiation and carcinogens like construction dust, chemicals and silica can develop cancers of the respiratory system.
How can live healthy and prevent lifestyle-induced cancers?
- Manage stress; seek medical help if required
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet with less sugar, fat, salt and oil.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (it would be good to detoxify raw fruits and vegetables using vegetable washes to prevent chemical fertilisers from entering your body).
- Avoid junk food as much as possible.
- Keep your body hydrated
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Exercise for at least 40 minutes every day – brisk walking is one of the best forms of exercise as it is a natural weight bearing exercise (the body carries its own weight). This will keep your weight under control.
- Wear masks if you work in places where there are chances of exposure to chemicals/ dust/ carcinogens.
- Avoid using multiple chemical-based cleansers at home.
A study by the University of Arizona, conducted on 92000 people aged between 50 and 79